Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bit & Spur Makers of Mexico

Left is Richardo Valencia Grijalva, Middle is Clint, Right is Juan Grijalva.

Eduardo Grijalva (1914-1994): A skilled Mexican bit and spur maker was a Yavapai Indian. His interest in bit making was aroused while he was working on his parents' ranch in El Coyotillo, Mexico. By 1948, as his craftsmanship improved, he worked full time making bits and spurs. Every cheekpiece, roller and mouthpiece was cut and shaped by hand.

Even though Eduardo passed away in 1994, his method of building a truly handmade pair of spurs or a bit did not die with him. His son Juan Adolfo Grijalva spent a lifetime working with his father learning the trade. Like his father, Juan is a master bit and spur maker. Juan continues to build bits and spurs in his father’s shop, marking his creations with the famous EG* stamp. Juan does not advertise nor ship his work, yet the demand for his product outweighs the supply.

The third generation of Grijalva bit makers is represented by Juan’s nephew, Eduardo’s grandson, Ricardo Valencia-Grijalva. who began learning the family trade by working with his grandfather Eduardo and his uncle Juan. Following his grandfather’s death, Ricardo continued to work along side his uncle. In 2004, Ricardo left the shop built by his grandfather and began working on his own. Today, Ricardo has gained recognition as a master in his own right. Currently he has a waiting list in excess of well over one year. Although Ricardo has moved to his own shop, he and his uncle Juan keep Eduardo’s traditional methods of building bits and spurs alive. Ricardo marks his bits and spurs with the L5* mark. The star in the mark plays homage to Eduardo, the L5 to the brand used by his other grandfather. In a world of short cuts and mass production, you can be assured that bits bearing the mark of Juan or Ricardo were constructed using methods found in centuries past.